REED London and the Promise of Critical Infrastructure

Diane Katherine Jakacki (, Bucknell University, United States of America and Susan Irene Brown (, University of Guelph, Canada and James Cummings (, Newcastle University, United Kingdom and Kimberly Martin (, University of Guelph, Canada

Alan​ ​Liu​ ​has​ ​called​ ​upon​ ​digital​ ​humanists​ ​to​ ​think​ ​more​ ​critically​ ​about​ ​infrastructure​ ​-​ ​the​ ​“social cum​ ​technological​ ​milieu​ ​that​ ​at​ ​once​ ​enables​ ​the​ ​fulfillment​ ​of​ ​human​ ​experience​ ​and​ ​enforces constraints​ ​on​ ​that​ ​experience” (Liu, 2017).​ ​Liu’s​ ​invitation​ ​comes​ ​at​ ​the​ ​moment​ ​when​ ​researchers​ ​involved​ ​in large-scale,​ ​long-term​ ​projects​ ​are​ ​shifting​ ​focus​ ​from​ ​remediation​ ​and​ ​the​ ​creation​ ​of​ ​digital incunabula​ ​to​ ​transmediation​ ​and​ ​the​ ​development​ ​of​ ​systems​ ​that​ ​support​ ​sustained​ ​discourse across​ ​ever-morphing​ ​digital​ ​networks,​ ​when​ ​we​ ​are​ ​recognizing​ ​the​ ​potential​ ​for​ ​“dynamism​ ​of​ ​the base​ ​or​ ​serialized​ ​form​ ​of​ ​the​ ​text—the​ ​state​ ​in​ ​which​ ​it​ ​is​ ​stored—as​ ​opposed​ ​to​ ​dynamic​ ​modes​ ​of presentation” (Brown, 2016: 288)​. ​REED​ ​London​ ​is​ ​one​ ​such​ ​project​ ​with​ ​a​ ​polyvalent​ ​dataset​ ​that​ ​spans​ ​over​ ​500 years’​ ​worth​ ​of​ ​archival​ records, ​embracing​ ​from​ ​the​ ​start​ ​the​ ​need​ ​to​ ​establish​ ​a​ ​stable, ​responsive production​ ​and​ ​presentation​ ​environment​ ​primed​ ​for​ ​use​ ​by​ ​a​ ​wide​ ​range​ ​of​ ​scholarly​ ​audiences. Thus​ ​we​ ​find​ ​that​ ​we​ ​are​ ​immediately​ ​testing​ ​those​ ​infrastructural​ constraints. ​In​ ​this​ ​paper, members​ ​of​ ​the​ ​REED​ ​London​ ​project​ ​team​ ​will​ ​address​ ​the​ ​challenges​ ​we​ ​face​ ​as​ ​we​ ​develop​ ​and implement​ ​a​ ​framework​ ​that​ ​trains​ ​us​ ​to​ ​think​ ​about​ ​our​ ​collected​ ​data​ ​in​ ​relation​ ​to​ ​much​ ​larger networks​ ​of​ ​disparate​ ​resources​ ​and​ ​user​ ​needs.

REED​ ​London​ ​develops​ ​from​ ​a​ ​partnership​ ​between​ ​the​ ​Records​ ​of​ ​Early​ ​English​ ​Drama​ ​(REED) and​ ​the​ ​Canadian​ ​Writing​ ​Research​ ​Collaboratory​ ​(CWRC). ​Together​ ​we​ ​are​ ​establishing​ ​an​ ​openly accessible​ ​online​ ​scholarly​ ​and​ ​pedagogical​ ​resource​ ​of​ ​London-centric​ documentary, editorial, and bibliographic​ ​materials​ ​related​ ​to​ ​performance,​ ​theatre,​ ​and​ ​music​ ​spanning​ ​the​ ​period​ ​1100-1642. With​ ​support​ ​from​ ​the​ ​Andrew​ ​W.​ ​Mellon​ ​Foundation​ ​and​ ​a​ ​CANARIE​ ​Research​ ​Software​ ​Program grant,​ ​a​ ​team​ ​of​ ​researchers​ ​in​ ​the​ ​digital​ ​humanities​ ​and​ ​performance​ ​history​ ​from​ ​the​ ​U.S., Canada,​ ​and​ ​the​ ​U.K.​ ​are​ ​building​ ​a​ ​stable,​ ​extensible​ ​editorial​ ​production​ ​and​ ​publication environment​ ​that​ ​will​ ​create​ ​new​ ​possibilities​ ​for​ ​scholarly​ ​presentation​ ​of​ ​archival​ ​materials​ ​gathered from​ ​legal,​ ​ecclesiastical,​ ​civic,​ ​political,​ ​and​ ​personal​ ​archival​ ​sources​ ​in​ ​and​ ​around​ ​London.​ ​The REED​ ​London​ ​project​ ​combines​ ​materials​ ​from​ ​three​ ​printed​ ​REED​ ​collections​ (
of​ ​
Ecclesiastical​ ​
London​,​ ​and​
Civic​ ​
London​ ​
1558)​,​ ​the​ ​prosopographical​ ​material​ ​from​ ​REED’s
Patrons​ ​
&​ ​
Performances​ ​
(P&P)​,​ ​the​ ​bibliographical​ ​materials​ ​of​ ​the​​
Early​ ​
Modern​ ​
Theatres (EMLoT)​ ​​database,​ ​and​ ​in-progress​ ​and​ ​planned​ ​digital​ ​collections​ ​focusing​ ​on​ ​London​ ​area performance​ ​spaces,​ ​most​ ​notably​ ​the​ ​Globe,​ ​Rose,​ ​and​ ​Curtain​ ​theatres​ ​and​ ​Civic​ ​London 1559-1642.

REED​ ​is​ ​an​ ​internationally​ ​renowned​ ​scholarly​ ​project​ ​that​ ​has​ ​worked​ ​to​ ​locate,​ ​transcribe,​ ​and​ ​edit evidence​ ​of​ ​drama,​ ​secular​ ​music,​ ​and​ ​other​ ​communal​ ​entertainment​ ​in​ ​Britain​ ​from​ ​the​ ​Middle Ages​ ​until​ ​1642.​ ​Since​ ​1979​ ​REED​ ​has​ ​published​ ​twenty-seven​ ​printed​ ​collections​ ​of​ ​transcribed records​ ​plus​ ​contextual​ ​materials.​ ​REED​ ​has​ ​long​ ​recognized​ ​the​ ​importance​ ​of​ ​online​ ​access​ ​to​ ​its resources,​​first​​ with
P&P​​​ and​​​
EMLoT​, ​​and​​ more​​ recently​​ with ​​the ​​born-digital​​ collection​
Staffordshire​. REED​ ​has​ ​wrestled​ ​with​ ​the​ ​balance​ ​between​ ​what​ ​was​ ​once​ ​considered​ ​its​ ​“core”​ ​print​ ​publication activities​ ​and​ ​“adjunct”​ ​digital​ ​efforts,​ ​in​ ​the​ ​process​ ​migrating​ ​its​ ​data​ ​across​ ​a​ ​succession​ ​of programs​ ​and​ ​formats​ ​from​ ​Basic​ ​and​ ​dBASE​ ​to​ ​TEI​ ​P5​ ​XML​ ​and​ ​MySQL (Hagen,​ ​MacLean,​ ​and​ ​Pasin, 2014).​ ​REED​ ​has​ ​developed​ ​its digital​​ resources ​​in​​ ways ​​that​​ complicate ​​integration (
&P ​​​exists ​​in​​ a ​​Drupal​​instance;​​​
EMLoT ​​​was built​ ​in​ ​a​ ​version​ ​of​ ​Django​ ​that​ ​is​ ​now​ ​out-of-date;​ ​
REED​ ​Staffordshire​ ​was​ ​lightly​ ​tagged​ ​in​ ​TEI​ ​and relies​ ​on​ ​EATSML for entity management, an​ ​XML​ ​format​ ​used​ ​by​ ​the​ ​Entity​ ​Authority​ ​Tool​ ​Set​ ​(EATS)​ ​for​ ​serialisation​ ​of​ ​its​ ​data).​ ​The​ ​components​ ​of​ ​REED​ ​London​ ​must​ ​therefore​ ​first be​ ​made​ ​intra-operable​ ​before​ ​they​ ​can​ ​become​ ​interoperable (Jakacki, 2016).​ ​The​ ​partnership​ ​with​ ​CWRC supports​ ​broader​ ​adoption​ ​of​ ​standards​ ​for​ ​TEI​ ​text​ ​markup,​ ​RDF​ ​metadata​ ​specifications,​ ​and named​​ entity ​​aggregation,​​ most ​​immediately​​ with ​​the ​​ingestion​​ of ​
EMLoT ​​​and ​​the​​ printed ​​​
Inns ​​
of Court​​ ​collection.

CWRC​ ​is​ ​an​ ​online​ ​infrastructure​ ​project​ ​designed​ ​to​ ​enable​ ​unprecedented​ ​avenues​ ​for​ ​studying the​ ​words​ ​that​ ​most​ ​move​ ​people​ ​in​ ​and​ ​about​ ​Canada.​ ​Built​ ​with​ ​funding​ ​from​ ​the​ ​Canada Foundation​ ​for​ ​Innovation,​ ​the​ ​CWRC​ ​platform​ ​supports​ ​best​ ​practices​ ​in​ ​the​ ​production​ ​of​ ​online collections,​ ​editions,​ ​born-digital​ ​essays,​ ​anthologies,​ ​collections,​ ​monographs,​ ​articles,​ ​or bibliographies,​ ​and​ ​supports​ ​the​ ​inclusion​ ​of​ ​visual,​ ​audio,​ ​and​ ​video​ ​sources (​About​ ​CWRC/CSÉC).​ ​It​ ​supports collaboration​ ​through​ ​the​ ​use​ ​of​ ​interoperable​ ​data​ ​formats​ ​and​ ​interlinking​ ​of​ ​materials,​ ​and​ ​for teams​ ​like​ ​REED​ ​London​ ​provides​ ​invaluable​ ​tools​ ​for​ ​communicating,​ ​tracking​ ​activity,​ ​and workflow.​ ​We​ ​envision​ ​that​ ​as​ ​the​ ​partnership​ ​develops​ ​and​ ​as​ ​REED​ ​London​ ​advances​ ​through production​ ​toward​ ​publication​ ​we​ ​will​ ​take​ ​full​ ​advantage​ ​of​ ​CWRC’s​ ​functionality.​ ​From​ ​the​ ​start​ ​we have​ ​worked​ ​directly​ ​in​ ​CWRC’s​ ​unique​ ​editor,​ ​CWRC-Writer,​ ​which​ ​allows​ ​us​ ​to​ ​edit​ ​REED​ ​London records,​ ​essays,​ ​and​ ​bibliographical​ ​material​ ​using​ ​more​ ​diplomatic​ ​and​ ​critical​ ​TEI​ ​P5​ ​XML​ ​markup and​ ​at​ ​the​ ​same​ ​time​ ​creating​ ​semantic​ ​web​ ​annotations​ ​with​ ​RDF​ ​to​ ​identify,​ ​manage,​ ​and​ ​interlink entities​ ​contained​ ​within.​ ​The​ ​platform​ ​is​ ​also​ ​helping​ ​us​ ​to​ ​develop​ ​a​ ​better​ ​editorial​ ​workflow through​ ​management​ ​of​ ​access​ ​to​ ​data​ ​and​ ​editing​ ​by​ ​role,​ ​team​ ​communications,​ ​tracking​ ​and reporting​ ​of​ ​team​ ​activities.

To​ ​ensure​ ​REED​ ​London’s​ ​stability​ ​and​ ​sustainability​ ​while​ ​extending​ ​its​ ​content​ ​and​ ​value​ ​to​ ​new generations​ ​of​ scholars​ ​the​ ​project​ ​is​ ​being​ ​built​ ​within​ ​the​ ​CWRC​ environment. ​The​ ​scope​ ​of​ ​REED London​ ​would​ ​not​ ​be​ ​possible​ ​without​ ​the​ ​sophisticated,​ ​integrated​ ​platform​ ​that​ ​CWRC​ ​provides. The​ ​focus​ ​of​ ​our​ ​first​ ​year​ ​is​ ​the​ ​design​ ​and​ ​construction​ ​of​ ​a​ ​collaborative​ ​online​ ​production​ ​and publication​ ​environment.​ ​Extending​ ​from​ ​CWRC’s​ ​existing​ ​integrated​ ​content​ ​management​ ​and preservation​ ​system,​ ​the​ ​enhanced​ ​environment​ ​will​ ​accommodate​ ​the​ ​range​ ​of​ ​record​ ​texts, editorial​ ​and​ ​bibliographical​ ​content​ ​from​ ​the​ ​source​ ​materials,​ ​while​ ​a​ ​customized​ ​browser-based CWRC-Writer​ ​platform​ ​will​ ​support​ ​the​ ​team’s​ ​goal​ ​of​ ​developing​ ​online​ ​editorial​ ​collaboration​ ​and review.​ ​The​ ​resulting​ ​streamlined​ ​production​ ​and​ ​publication​ ​environment​ ​will​ ​yield​ ​multi-faceted user-centered​ ​editions,​ ​meaning​ ​that​ ​agile​ ​component​ ​archival​ ​and​ ​editorial​ ​parts​ ​can​ ​cohere according​ ​to​ ​various​ ​criteria​ ​in​ ​response​ ​to​ ​scholars’​ ​research​ ​and​ ​teaching​ ​needs.​ ​In​ ​this​ ​way​ ​we are​ ​establishing​ ​a​ ​platform​ ​that​ ​produces​ ​new​ ​forms​ ​of​ ​“edition”​ ​that​ ​combine​ ​customized​ ​textual​ ​and contextual​ ​materials,​ ​exportable​ ​customized​ ​datasets​ ​and​ ​dynamic​ ​data​ ​visualizations.​ ​It​ ​also​ ​means that​ ​we​ ​will​ ​be​ ​able​ ​to​ ​realize​ ​the​ ​promise​ ​of​ ​extending​ ​the​ ​value​ ​of​ ​these​ ​materials​ ​to​ ​colleagues​ ​in fields​ ​beyond​ ​performance​ ​history,​ ​including​ ​political,​ ​religious,​ ​and​ ​cultural​ ​studies,​ ​and​ ​linguistics.

The​ ​partnership​ ​between​ ​CWRC​ ​and​ ​REED​ ​allows​ ​us​ ​to​ ​explore​ ​the​ ​potential​ ​for​ ​new​ ​research applications​ ​associated​ ​with​ ​prosopography,​ ​networks,​ ​and​ ​deep​ ​contextualization.​ ​REED​ ​London’s wealth​ ​of​ ​references​ ​to​ ​very​ ​itinerant​ ​individuals​ ​across​ ​contemporaneous​ ​records​ ​means​ ​that​ ​we will​ ​be​ ​able​ ​to​ ​discern​ ​patterns​ ​through​ ​linking,​ ​analysis,​ ​and​ ​visualization.​ ​We​ ​will​ ​leverage​ ​REED’s named​ ​entities​ ​for​ ​linking​ ​people,​ ​places,​ ​events,​ ​and​ ​organizations.​ ​Our​ ​team​ ​has​ ​healthy​ ​debates about​ ​the​ ​problematic​ ​present​ ​of​ ​linked​ ​data.​ ​Brown​ ​has​ ​stated​ ​that,​ ​“linking​ ​up​ ​with​ ​other​ ​data means​ ​connecting​ ​one​ ​ontology​ ​to​ ​another,​ ​and​ ​this​ ​brings​ ​with​ ​it​ ​a​ ​pressure​ ​toward​ ​generalization rather​ ​than​ ​specificity” (Brown,​ ​Simpson,​ ​et.​ ​al.,​ ​2015).​ ​Cummings​ ​has​ ​posited​ ​that​ ​“being​ ​able​ ​to​ ​seamlessly​ ​integrate​ ​highly complex​ ​and​ ​changing​ ​digital​ ​structures​ ​from​ ​a​ ​variety​ ​of​ ​heterogeneous​ ​sources​ ​through interoperable​ ​methods​ ​without​ ​either​ ​significant​ ​conditions​ ​or​ ​intermediary​ ​agents​ ​is​ ​a​ ​deluded fantasy” (Cummings​ ​2014).​ ​Still,​ ​as​ ​a​ ​group​ ​we​ ​hope​ ​that​ ​by​ ​publishing​ ​our​ ​ontologies​ ​as​ ​a​ ​means​ ​of​ ​relating​ ​these entities​ ​as​ ​linked​ ​open​ ​data,​ ​we​ ​will​ ​be​ ​able​ ​to​ ​contribute​ ​to​ ​larger​ ​dialogues​ ​about​ ​class​ ​and​ ​society in​ ​Britain​ ​-​ ​certainly​ ​over​ ​the​ ​500​ ​years​ ​covered​ ​by​ ​REED​ ​London,​ ​but​ ​also​ ​about​ ​the​ ​development​ ​of Britain​ ​and​ ​Europe.​ ​CWRC​ ​content​ ​will​ ​be​ ​aggregated​ ​by​ ​the​ ​Advanced​ ​Research​ ​Consortium (ARC),​ ​and​ ​REED​ ​London​ ​will​ ​benefit​ ​from​ ​that​ ​aggregation,​ ​as​ ​we​ ​anticipate​ ​that​ ​people​ ​who​ ​figure in​ ​the​ ​REED​ ​London​ ​corpus,​ ​such​ ​as​ ​Elizabeth​ ​I,​ ​Francis​ ​Bacon,​ ​and​ ​Inigo​ ​Jones​ ​will​ ​be discoverable​ ​by​ ​scholars​ ​searching​ ​for​ ​these​ ​known​ ​figures​ ​across​ ​other​
​linked​ ​resources.​ ​Perhaps more​ ​important,​ ​REED​ ​London​ ​records​ ​include​ ​extended​ ​references​ ​to​ ​thousands​ ​of​ ​Londoners​ ​who were​ ​in​ ​some​ ​way​ ​connected​ ​to​ ​performance,​ ​but​ ​who​ ​were​ ​not​ ​defined​ ​by​ ​that​ ​connection:​ ​civic officials,​ ​guild​ ​members,​ ​lawyers,​ ​clerks,​ ​priests,​ ​etc.​ ​The​ ​work​ ​of​ ​this​ ​project​ ​thus​ ​holds​ ​as​ ​yet unrealized​ ​value​ ​for​ ​a​ ​much​ ​broader​ ​understanding​ ​of​ ​British​ ​historical​ ​subjects.

Working​ ​within​ ​CWRC’s​ ​platform​ ​and​ ​optimizing​ ​CWRC-Writer​ ​has​ ​allowed​ ​the​ ​core​ ​REED​ ​London team​ ​to​ ​move​ ​efficiently​ ​to​ ​an​ ​advanced​ ​planning​ ​phase.​ ​By​ ​the​ ​end​ ​of​ ​2017​ ​we​ ​will​ ​have designed​ ​templates​ ​for​ ​all​ ​record​ ​formats​ ​from​​
Inns of Court​ ​​and​ ​mapped​ ​database​ ​fields​ ​from
EMLoT​​ ​to​ ​align​ ​with​ ​the​ ​record​ ​parts​ ​from​ ​the​ ​print​ ​collections.​ ​We​ ​will​ ​have​ ​harvested​ ​a​ ​preliminary “white​ ​list”​ ​of​ ​named​ ​entities​ ​(people,​ ​places,​ ​organizations)​ ​from​ ​all​ ​three​ ​print​ ​​​collection​ ​indexes, P&P,​ ​and​ ​Staffordshire.​ ​Because​ ​of​ ​this​ ​efficient​ ​onramp​ ​we​ ​will​ ​be​ ​able​ ​to​ ​focus​ ​in​ ​the​ ​first​ ​half​ ​of 2018​ ​on​ ​ingesting​ ​data,​ ​records,​ ​and​ ​contextual​ ​materials​ ​from​ ​Inns​ ​of​ ​Court​ ​and​ ​EMLoT.​ ​We​ ​will test​ ​the​ ​REED-specific​ ​entity​ ​list​ ​on​ ​ingested​ ​materials.​ ​We​ ​will​ ​also​ ​begin​ ​to​ ​user-test​ ​the​ ​editorial workflow​ ​system​ ​with​ ​the​ ​larger​ ​project​ ​team​ ​of​ ​REED​ ​editors​ ​and​ ​staff.​ ​By​ ​June​ ​2018​ ​we​ ​will​ ​have begun​ ​semantic​ ​tagging​ ​and​ ​experimentation​ ​with​ ​the​ ​CWRC​ ​HuViz​ ​semantic​ ​web​ ​visualization​ ​tool. At​ ​the​ ​DH​ ​2018​ ​conference​ ​we​ ​will​ ​report​ ​on​ ​further​ ​customization​ ​of​ ​the​ ​CWRC​ interface,​ our​ ​plans for​ ​data​ ​discovery​ ​and​ ​research​ ​collaboration,​ ​and​ ​present​ ​preliminary​ ​plans​ ​for​ ​user-responsive editions​ ​and​ ​data​ ​linkage.

Appendix A

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  2. Brown, S.​, ​Simpson, J.,
    CWRC​ ​Project​ ​Team, and ​Inke​ ​Project​ ​Team. (2015) ​An​ ​Entity​ ​By​ ​Any​ ​Other Name:​ ​Linked​ ​Open​ ​Data​ ​as​ ​a​ ​Basis​ ​for​ ​a​ ​Decentered,​ ​Dynamic​ ​Scholarly​ ​Publishing​ ​Ecology.
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  3. Canadian Writing Research Collaboratory ​project​ ​website.​ ​​
  4. Cummings,​ ​J. (2014).​ ​The​ ​Compromises​ ​and​ ​Flexibility​ ​of​ ​TEI​ ​Customisation.​ In​ ​Mills, C., ​ ​Pidd, M.​ ​and​ Ward, E.​ (eds),
    Proceedings of the Digital Humanities Congress 2012.​ ​
  5. CWRC:​ About​ ​CWRC/CSÉC​ ​webpage.​ ​​
  6. CWRC​ ​Humanities​ ​Visualizer​ ​webpage. ​​
  7. Early Modern London Theatres​​ ​website.​ ​​
  8. Entity Authority Tool Set​ ​(EATS)​ ​website. ​​
  9. Hagen, T.,​ ​MacLean, S.,​ ​and​ ​Pasin, M.​ (​2014).​ ​Moving​ ​Early​ ​Modern​ ​Theatre​ ​Online: the Records​ ​of​ ​Early​ ​English​ ​Drama​ ​introduces​ ​the​ ​Early​ ​Modern​ ​London​ ​Theatres.
  10. Jakacki, D. (2017)​ ​REED​ ​London:​ ​Humanistic​ ​Roots,​ ​Humanistic​ ​Futures.​ ​Paper​ ​given​ ​at​ ​MLA​ ​2017.
  11. Jakacki, D.​ (2016) REED​ ​and​ ​the​ ​Prospect​ ​of​ ​Networked​ ​Data. Paper​ ​given​ ​at​ ​the​ ​Conference​ ​of​ ​the​ ​Canadian Society​ ​for​ ​Renaissance​ ​Studies.​
  12. Liu, A. (2017)​ ​Toward​ ​Critical​ ​Infrastructure​ ​Studies»,​ ​paper​ ​given​ ​at​ ​the​ ​University​ ​of​ ​Connecticut.​ ​​
  13. Records​ ​of​ ​Early​ ​English​ ​Drama​ ​project​ ​website. h​​ttp://
  14. REED​ Patrons and Performances website.
  15. REED
    Staffordshire​​ ​Collection​ ​website. ​​

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